King Canada 6" benchtop jointer with helical cutterhead
If you work in a small shop where space is at a premium you might want to consider purchasing a bendchtop jointer rather than a stationary 6″ jointer. A benchtop jointer will deliver the same performance and precision as a stationary jointer, accurately truing stock up to 6″ wide and up to about 6 feet long.
Motor: 1 HP, 10 Amp
Cutterhead Speed: 12,000 RPM (no-load)
Table Size: 6-1/8″ x 29-7/8″
Fence Size: 4-1/4″ x 19-5/8″
Max Cutting Depth: 1/8″
Bevel Capacity: 0-45°
# of Inserts: 12
Insert Size: 2mm x 14.3mm x 14.3mm (2 sided)
Warranty: 2 Years
2 safety push blocks
Torx and hex keys
The King Canada KC-6HJC is equipped with a 1 HP, 10 Amp motor, rated for a maximum 1/8″ depth of cut. While I found that it could easily remove the full 1/8″ in a single pass, I typically keep my cuts to about 1/32″. It places less strain on the motor, and the results are better. I like that the jointer only draws 10 amps, as I can plug it into a shared circuit (with my shop vac, for example), without worrying that the circuit breaker will trip.
The KC-6HJC is about as compact a jointer as you’re likely to find. Overall table length is a hair’s breath under 30″ compared to a common 46″ length for a stationary jointer, making it 35% shorter. However, I can still easily joint 4′ stock, and with a roller stand on the outfeed side I can joint a 7′ board. This works well for me because I don’t make large scale furniture.
As you’ll find on a lot of benchtop machines, the KC-6HJC uses a ribbed drive belt, which provides efficient power transfer between the motor and cutterhead. These belts are highly durable and will likely never need replacing.
The infeed and outfeed tables are coplanar and near to perfectly flat. I couldn’t discern any dipping in the surfaces along the length or width of both tables. I sprayed both tables with Bostik’s ‘GlideCote’ lubricant which helps to reduce friction. Additionally, it provides some corrosion protection. I’ve been using this product for quite a few years on my table saw and bandsaw tables.
The 4-1/4″ x 19 5/8″ fence is an ample size and it can be adjusted between 45° and 90°. Still, it’s good practice to check the angle with a square or sliding bevel every time you adjust it. I like the heavily ribbed face of the fence as it reduces drag when edge jointing tall stock.
After installing the fence you need to carefully check that it’s square to the table. A set screw enables you to make any necessary adjustment. There is also a set screw to fine tune the 45-degree fence stop if needed. I found it necessary to make both adjustments and happily the process only took a few minutes to complete.
The swivel locking handles used to adjust the fence are fairly typical for machines at this price range. I found it quick and easy to adjust the lateral position of the fence, as well as the bevel position. The fence flexes just a little when pushing stock tight up against it during jointing operations. However, I don’t find that this compromises the jointing process – the important thing is that the fence typically remains 90-degrees to the table. I’ve jointed well over 100 board feet on the KC-6HJC and a couple of times noticed the fence slightly out of alignment. Nothing serious, but it’s still worth checking the fence on a regular basis. Because my shop is so small it’s not uncommon that machinery gets knocked occasionally when moving stock around.
Knobs for adjusting the cutting depth, and locking the position of the infeed table, are a decent size. Depth of cut adjustments in 1/64″ increments are quick and easy to make. Finer adjustments take a more delicate touch. When turning the adjustment knob the table advances (and retracts) smoothly and stays in place when I release the knob. Typically I use the scale as a general reference guide. I’ll set the table to cut at approximately 1/16″ or so for initial stock preparation and just below the 0 mark for finish cuts. I prefer taking a few ‘kissing cuts’ rather than risk taking off to much material at any one time.
The KC-6HJC has a standard 2-1/2″ dust port. There are three options for dealing with waste chips. You can connect to a dust extractor (aka shop vacuum), a dust collector (you’ll need to purchase a 2-1/2″ to 4″ adapter), or simply let the chips fall into a waste container. Because I work in such a small shop I use a dust extractor.
I was quite surprised at how little vibration there is with this jointer. Rubber feet help dampen vibration and keep the jointer from moving about a bench top. You can bolt the jointer in place. 1/4″ T-bolts work perfectly for this as the bolt head is long enough to butt up against the side of the jointer, making it a cinch to tighten the nut underneath the tabletop.
The KC-6HJC cutterhead has 12 HSS (high speed steel) inserts – each with two cutting edges. Once a cutting edge become dull you simply loosen the holding screw and rotate the insert to expose the fresh edge. The inserts are staggered so they provide a continuous cutting surface across the width of the cutterhead.
If you have a jointer that uses jack screws to adjust the straight blades, you’ll know what a pain blade set-up can be. Installing (or rotating a fresh cutting edge) on a spiral cutterhead is a piece of cake in comparison. I removed and then reinstalled all 12 inserts in a leisurely 10 minutes or so. No fiddling, no fine tuning.
I found that the insert knives hold an edge that’s comparable to high quality conventional straight knives. A pack of 10 2-sided HSS cutter inserts (KW-204) from King Canada cost $79.99, or $40 per set of cutting edges. An equivalent set of CMT or Dimar 6″ jointer blades cost about $35, or $70 for two sets. Not an appreciable price difference for the convenience that an insert cutterhead provides. King Canada doesn’t have carbide inserts available currently. If you do choose to install carbide inserts make sure they are exactly the same size as the HSS inserts – 2mm x 14.3mm x 14.3mm and that they’re 2-sided, not 4-sided.
In the end, what really matters is how well the KC-6HJC performs, and I’m happy to report that the results are very good. Surfaces are wonderfully smooth, with very little discernible milling marks whether on straight grained, interlocked, wavy or irregularly grained wood.
King Canada also has an 8″ version of this benchtop jointer (KC-8HJC), with a 16 insert helical cutterhead, that’s well suited for wider stock.
While a stationary jointer does have its benefits, there is no reason to shy away from the King Canada KC-6HJC, especially if you work primarily with short stock and in a small workshop. You’ll save precious floor space, but won’t sacrifice surface quality.